The Impact Of New York City’s New Minimum Wage

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial today about the impact of New York City raising the minimum wage over the past four years.

The editorial reports:

Over the past four years, the minimum wage for New York City restaurants that employ more than 10 workers went from $10.50 an hour to $15. That’s a whopping 43% increase. Next year, every restaurant, big and small, will have to pay their workers at least $15 an hour.

A big victory for workers, right? That’s how it’s depicted by the “Fight for $15” crowd. And, yes, if you held a full-time minimum-wage job over those years, your gross income would have gone up by $9,360.

But those massive wage hikes come at a painful cost that backers refuse to acknowledge. They kill jobs. Just like they’re doing right now in New York City.

In just the last three months of last year, 4,000 workers lost jobs at full-service restaurants, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show.

One of the problems here is a misunderstanding of the purpose of the minimum wage. A minimum-wage job should not be an ultimate goal. A minimum-wage job should be a way to enter into the workforce and learn some basic skills–dealing with people, being punctual, having manners, etc. Theoretically these basic skills will allow you to advance to a job that pays better than minimum wage.

The editorial continues:

Even during the Great Recession, restaurant workers didn’t suffer as much as they are now. In fact, over the course of the recession, which lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, the number of restaurant jobs in the city actually increased by 1,800.

It’s getting so bad that fast-food workers now want the city to protect them from getting fired without “just cause.”

Those who keep their jobs aren’t necessarily better off, either.

The Hospitality Alliance survey found that more than three quarters of New York restaurants cut worker hours in 2018 to offset that year’s wage hike. Seventy-five percent say they want to cut hours this year.

“Though the new regulations are intended to benefit employees, some restaurateurs and staffers say that take-home pay ends up being less due to fewer hours — or that employees face more work because there are fewer staffers per shift,” notes Tara Crowl in an article in New York Eater.

The results of a significant increase in the minimum wage in New York City are similar to the results of a significant increase in the minimum wage in Seattle and in Illinois. It seems to me that we need to stop making the same mistakes over and over again and take a good look at the results. Rather than increase the minimum wage, we should be encouraging people to learn the skills they need to get them into jobs that pay better than minimum wage. We should also realize that raising wages too high too fast will create unemployment–not wealth.

The Quality Of Life Index

Who knew that there was a Quality of Life Index? I certainly didn’t, but there is one, and Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about it on February 8th.

The editorial reports:

Unemployment at historic lows? Wages climbing at a fast pace? Who knew? The news media, fixated on Trump scandals, hasn’t exactly been broadcasting that good news. And media fact checkers busied themselves after the speech nitpicking Trump’s economic boasts.

But the upbeat assessment clearly resonated with the public, most of whom gave Trump’s speech top marks. Turns out they have been firsthand witnesses to the strength of the economy over the past two years.

How do we know? Look at the IBD/TIPP Quality of Life Index, which asks the public whether they think their quality of life will be better, worse or the same over the next six months.

In the 17 years IBD has been compiling this index, it’s averaged 56.2. Under President Obama, it averaged just 53.7. Even if you only include Obama’s second term, it was well below the 17-year average.

Under Trump? The Quality of Life Index has averaged 59.3. That’s a 10% increase over the average during the Obama years.

To be sure, there’s a partisan element to this. Republicans tend to rate their quality of life higher than Democrats when there’s a Republican in the White House, and vice versa. But look at independents: Their quality of life averaged 52 under Obama. It’s averaging 58.8 under Trump — a 13% bump.

What’ more, the gains are across the board. Households making from $35,000 to $50,000, for example, saw an 8% gain in this index when you compare Trump to Obama. Those making from $50,000 to $75,000, an 11% gain.

This is what winning looks like for the Middle Class.

What Does The Green New Deal Have In Common With The United Nations’ Solutions To Global Warming?

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about the Democrat’s Green New Deal. Oddly enough, when you look at the consequences of the policies of the Green New Deal, they have a lot in common with ideas espoused by the United Nations.

The motives of both are somewhat questionable.

In March 2016, I posted an article with the following:

…Then listen to the words of former United Nations climate official Ottmar Edenhofer:

“One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with the environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole,” said Edenhofer, who co-chaired the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change working group on Mitigation of Climate Change from 2008 to 2015.

So what is the goal of environmental policy?

“We redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy,” said Edenhofer.

For those who want to believe that maybe Edenhofer just misspoke and doesn’t really mean that, consider that a little more than five years ago he also said that “the next world climate summit in Cancun is actually an economy summit during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.”

Mad as they are, Edenhofer’s comments are nevertheless consistent with other alarmists who have spilled the movement’s dirty secret. Last year, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, made a similar statement.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said in anticipation of last year’s Paris climate summit.

“This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.”

Let’s compare that to the Green New Deal.

Investor’s Business Daily reports:

Reading the Green New Deal (GND) plan, put out Thursday by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey, one is tempted to think it’s not real, just a joke from the satirical “The Onion.” The individual planks in the plan, individually and collectively, sound like the rantings of someone who should be institutionalized, not like a rational political plan to solve a real problem.

Let’s begin with what the plan promises: “a massive transformation of our society with clear goals and a timeline.”

That’s a sweeping, explicit pledge of radical socialist change. And that’s  not all. It offers “a 10-year plan to mobilize every aspect of American society at a scale not seen since World War 2 to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create economic prosperity for all.”

The editorial at Investor’s Business Daily concludes:

“The so-called Green New Deal resolution presented today by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., is a Back-to-the-Dark Ages Manifesto,” said Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Center for Energy and Environment. “It calls for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in ten years, ‘upgrading all existing buildings’, and replacing our vehicle fleet with electric cars and more mass transit. And turning our energy economy upside down must be accomplished while ending historic income inequities and oppression of disadvantaged groups. Needless to say, the costs would be stupendous, and the damage done by its policies would be catastrophic.”

We’re grateful that President Trump threw down the gantlet against socialism during his Tuesday night State of the Union address. As he said, “America will never be a Socialist country.” And he drove that point home by adding: “We were born free and we will stay free.”

Scourge Of Socialism

We hope he’s right, and America’s declining education system and the increasingly far-left mainstream media have’t made socialism a palatable choice against the extraordinary success of  the free market. Socialism is among humanity’s worst ideas and it has failed everywhere — everywhere — it has been tried.

Those who don’t think the socialist disaster of Venezuela can happen here are sadly — tragically — mistaken.

It should never be tried again, anywhere, but especially not here.

They idea that a country can prosper by guaranteeing everyone a comfortable standard of living whether they choose to work or not goes against human nature. Prosperity comes from achievement, and achievement is generally spurred on by the rewards it receives. If hard work is not rewarded, there will be no great achievements. It’s that simple.

This Is How You Actually Help Middle-Class Families

On Friday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial with the title, “Trump Delivers For Workers … After Years Of Empty Obama Promises.” The editorial cites the latest jobs report and explains how that excellent report is the result of President Trump’s economic policies. The first thing to remember here is that President Trump is a businessman–not a politician (although he has a very fast learning curve). His approach to government seems to be very similar to that of a businessman–what is the most efficient way to solve a problem? There are those in Washington who do not welcome this approach.

The editorial reminds us:

The 304,000 gain in jobs reported by the Labor Department was nearly twice the consensus estimate. And it comes after December’s expectation-busting gains.

There’s more. The jobs picture is so strong right now that it’s pulling people in who’ve been sitting on the sidelines.

In fact, for the first time in more than 20 years, the number of people who are out of the labor force — those without jobs and not looking — shrank by 647,000 over the past 12 months. So many people are returning to the labor force that the official unemployment rate is going up, even as the job market booms.

This comes, mind you, at a time when baby boomers are retiring en masse. Under Obama, in contrast, the number of labor force dropouts exploded by 14.4 million.

The latest numbers also underscore a point we’ve been making in this space for months — that all the talk of a tight labor market overlooked the vast pool of idle workers during the Obama years.

The editorial concludes:

Other evidence of this turnaround came earlier in the week, when the Labor Dept reported that private sector wages and salaries climbed 3% last year — the biggest annual increase in a decade. Under Obama, private sector wage gains averaged just 2%.

Why Now?

So why now, this late in the game?

The answer is simple. At least to those not blinded by partisanship or economic ideology.

For eight years, Obama kept promising “bottom-up growth,” while telling the country that tax cuts and deregulation would only benefit the rich. But his policies — Dodd-Frank, ObamaCare, higher taxes, a regulatory tsunami — produced economic stagnation. As it always does, that stagnation hurt the working class most.

Trump went in the opposite direction. His pro-growth tax cuts, deregulatory campaign and pro-energy policies fueled huge increases in economic optimism and turbocharged the economy. And now we’re seeing real job growth and strong wage gains for the first time in more than a decade.

You tell us which approach is proving more worker friendly.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Republicans and Democrats could work together to insure the continuation of this economic growth?

Consequences Of Good Economic Policy

On Friday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about The Heritage Foundation’s 25th annual “Index of Economic Freedom.”

The editorial reports:

In just one year, the U.S. climbed six places to 12th worldwide on the Heritage Foundation’s 25th annual “Index of Economic Freedom.” The U.S. index score of 76.8 is the highest since 2011, the report says.

Heritage bases its annual rankings on a dozen different measures of economic freedom, such as tax burden, protection of property rights, tax burden trade policies, labor laws, judicial effectiveness.

…In fact, during Obama’s tenure, the U.S. plunged from 6th place down to 18th on the Heritage freedom rank, in the wake of tax hikes and massive new financial, insurance and environmental regulations.

The editorial explains the importance of these ratings:

Why do these rankings matter? As Heritage explains, there’s a clear correlation between economic freedom and prosperity. The freer an economy is, the more prosperous its people.

Heritage finds that in countries consistently rated “free” or “mostly free,” average incomes are twice that of all other countries, and five times that of “repressed” economies.

The most striking example of the connection between freedom and prosperity is Venezuela. One of the wealthiest countries in South America before socialist dictator Hugo Chávez took control, Venezuela is now racked with hyperinflation, starvation, and political chaos.

But you can see the same impact in the U.S. as well.

The editorial concludes:

And the benefits of this growth are widespread. The unemployment rate was just 3.9% at the end of the year. The job market is so vibrant right now that it’s pulling people off the sidelines to look for work. In fact, the number of people who aren’t in the labor force actually declined last year. That hasn’t happened since 1996 — which was in the middle of the Clinton boom. Wage growth is accelerating, and median household incomes are at record highs.

The freedom index is a powerful reminder that while redistributionist policies — like those currently in favor among Democrats — might be emotionally satisfying, they won’t grow the economy or boost prosperity.

It will be interesting where our rating is next year in view of the fact that the Democrats now control the House of Representatives.

Dueling Gotcha’s

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily reported the following:

As John Solomon reported in The Hill,  “The then-senior Department of Justice (DOJ) official (Ohr) briefed both senior FBI and DOJ officials in summer 2016 about Christopher Steele’s Russia dossier, explicitly cautioning that the British intelligence operative’s work was opposition research connected to Hillary Clinton‘s campaign and might be biased.”

FBI, Justice Knew

Ohr himself told congressional investigators, “I certainly told the FBI that Fusion GPS was working with, doing opposition research on Donald Trump.  I provided information to the FBI when I thought Christopher Steele was, as I said, desperate that Trump not be elected. So, yes, of course I provided that to the FBI.”

Ohr at the time was the No. 4 official at the Justice Department, a powerful post. Even so, he claims he told the FBI that both his wife, Nellie Ohr, and Steele both worked for Fusion GPS. Hillary Clinton’s campaign hired Fusion GPS through their law firm, Perkins Coie, to do opposition research on Trump.

The article concludes:

They started a dirty campaign operation against Trump, used it to spy on him, then opened a special investigation that probed virtually all areas of his life and business affairs, not just his supposed collusion with Russia. It originated with the Hillary Clinton campaign. Yes, but it found more-than-willing participants in the remnants of Obama’s national security and intelligence Deep State.

None of this behavior is legal, of course. The politicization of the FBI and Justice are crimes, plain and simple. As Roger Kimball recently noted, this is not on a par with Watergate — it’s far worse. Our system is tragically broken when government officials can lie and deceive in an effort to thwart an American election.

This is the stuff of Banana Republics, where rule of law means nothing. That’s not America, where rule of law is everything. But if these crimes go unpunished, we  will surely become a Banana Republic, too.

Mediaite reported today:

Anthony Cormier is one of the two investigative reporter at BuzzfeedNews who co-authored the bombshell report published Thursday night — a report which claimed President Donald Trump directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie during Congressional testimony over discussions between the Trump Organization and Russian authorities about a Trump Tower Moscow project.

Cormier appeared on CNN’s New Day and revealed that he had not seen the evidence underlying his report.

Frankly I think Michael Cohen would tell Mueller that he saw Donald Trump cavorting with alien creatures from a spaceship in his back yard in order to stay out of jail. I guess I am skeptical.

Breitbart notes the following in an article posted today:

Thanks to the media’s previous bombshell report on this very same subject, a report that proved — like all the others — to be fake news, when the president’s own son, Donald Trump Jr., testified before congress on this Russia deal, he told the truth, he told congress that this particular Russia deal stayed alive (in some nebulous form) until June of 2016.

But now we’re supposed to believe that, even though his own son told the truth, Trump still instructed Cohen to lie — to testify the Russian deal died six months earlier, in January of 2016.

I think Michael Cohen might do better with the aliens and spaceships.

UPDATE: The Special Counsel has openly denied the Mediaite report. Hopefully that will be the end of this lie.

The Other Shoe

Now it’s time to talk about the other shoe some Americans are waiting to drop.

Let’s talk about the evidence for the government’s abuse of power in dealing with candidate Trump and later President Trump.

Yesterday Joe Hoft posted an article at The Gateway Pundit with the title, “HUGE REVELATION! DEEP STATE LIED! Investigated Trump Campaign with FOUR SEPARATE INDIVIDUAL PROBES – All With Separate Code Names!”

The article reports:

As has been suspected to date, the FBI had four separate investigations – one each on Flynn, Papadopoulos, Carter Page and Manafort. [This is why they were all targeted by Mueller – to attempt to find anything on these individuals to support their spying on them and Trump!]

The article includes documentation on the four investigations and notes that because of “the sensitivity of the matter,” the FBI did not notify congressional leadership about this investigation during the FBI’s regular counterintelligence briefings. So the FBI was purposely avoiding congressional oversight.

On Sunday The Conservative Treehouse posted an article with the title,””Backtracking Lies Worsening – REMINDER: The FBI Counterintelligence Operation into Donald Trump *DID NOT* Start After Comey Firing….

The article reminds us:

John Brennan realized someone has focused attention on Comey’s admission to congress that the FBI intentionally kept congress in the dark during the construct of the counter-intel narrative. Congress was kept in the dark during this phase because the narrative can only thrive with innuendo, rumor, gossip etc. The appearance of the investigation itself was the political need; the substance was non-existent and immaterial to the creation of the narrative.

If Comey notified congress, via the Gang of Eight oversight, the counter-intel narrative would have been harder to manufacture as details would have to be consistent. That’s the benefit to keeping any oversight away while creating the politically useful narrative.

John Brennan, facing the looming certainty of the underlying Russian ‘collusion evidence’ being non-existent, in 2017 was trying to give the appearance that he briefed congress on larger Russian election interference issues. However , the trouble for Brennan is his own admission that these issues were the underlying principle for the FBI counter-intelligence investigation. Brennan specifically says he gave his intelligence product to the FBI.

Additionally, “Brennan put some of the dossier material into the PDB [presidential daily briefing] for Obama and described it as coming from a ‘credible source,’ which is how they viewed Steele,” … “But they never corroborated his sources.”  (link)

The material within Obama’s PDB, placed by Brennan, is what initially set off alarm bells for Devin Nunes (early 2017) because the material underlying the PDB intelligence product was unmasked by Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice.

Today Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial with the following headline, “Deep State: Did Justice, CIA And FBI Commit Crimes To Get Rid Of Trump?”

The editorial reminds us:

The actual investigation by the Justice Department and FBI began during the election campaign. Using half-baked and “unverifiable” intelligence about Trump’s purported links to Russia, officials used the so-called Steele Dossier four separate times for FISA court approval to spy on the Trump campaign.

The only problem is, the Steele Dossier didn’t come from the FBI or Justice Department. It came from Fusion GPS, an opposition research group linked to the Democrats. And Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid for it.

“Ostensibly, the surveillance application targeted Carter Page,” wrote Andrew McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and himself a former federal prosecutor. “But Page was just a side issue. The dossier was principally about Trump – not Page, not Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, or other Trump associates referred to by Steele. The dossier’s main allegation was that Trump was in an espionage conspiracy with Russia to swing the election to Trump, after which Trump would do Putin’s bidding from the White House.”

So for all intents and purposes, the Deep State holdovers from the Obama administration were serving as an adjunct to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Early on in the investigation, CIA chief John Brennan convened multi-agency meetings about Trump. They included Peter Strzok, the head of the FBI’s counter-intelligence, and James Clapper, national intelligence director under Obama, among others.

The premise of the meetings, again, was that Trump possibly colluded with the Russians to hack our election and might even be an agent of Russia.

This is the shoe that has evidence attached. I can promise you that if the rogue members of the DOJ and FBI are not held accountable for their behavior, we will see more of this in the future. At that point, no candidate that does not reflect the values of the deep state will ever be elected.

When Facts Get In The Way Of A Good Narrative

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about the situation on our southern border. I guess you might even call the editorial a fact-check on some of the things we have been told recently by the mainstream media.

The editorial reports:

NPR’s “fact check” — like countless others — dismissed Trump’s claim as false because “illegal border crossings in the most recent fiscal year (ending in September 2018) were actually lower than in either 2016 or 2014.”

What they aren’t telling you is border patrol agents apprehended more than 100,000 people trying to enter the country illegally in just October and November of last year. Or that that number is way up from the same two months the year before.

Nor do they mention that last year, the border patrol apprehended more than half a million people trying to get into the country illegally. And that number, too, is up from the year before.

NPR may call that a fact-check, but it seems to me that it is more like political spin.

The editorial continues:

Trump’s critics certainly don’t bother to mention that those figures only count illegals the border patrol caught. It does not count the ones who eluded border patrol agents and got into the country.

The Department of Homeland Security claims that about 20% of illegal border crossers make it into the country. Other studies, however, say border agents fail to apprehend as much as 50% of illegal crossers.

Even at the lower percentage, that means that 104,000 illegals made it into the country in 2018 alone.

Is that not a crisis at the border?

I strongly suggest that you follow the above link to read the entire editorial. It contains a lot of important information that is not necessarily being reported.

The editorial notes that previous Presidents noted the crisis and promised to fix it:

Here’s another problem with claims that we don’t have a crisis at the border.

Past presidents all treated it like one.

In 1982, for example, President Ronald Reagan said that “The ongoing migration of persons to the United States in violation of our laws is a serious national problem detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

President Bill Clinton said in his 1995 State of the Union address that “All Americans … are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country.” That’s why, he said, “our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders.”

President George Bush, in a prime-time Oval Office speech in 2006, declared that securing the U.S. border is a basic responsibility of a sovereign nation. It is also an urgent requirement of our national security.”

Bush also promised to end the practice of catch-and-release “once and for all.” He said that “people will know that they’ll be caught and sent home if they enter our country illegally.” 

President Barack Obama in 2005 declared that “we simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, unchecked.” And in 2014 even he admitted there was a crisis on the border — one that he did virtually nothing to fix. (Apprehensions at the border last year were almost the same as in 2014.)

The editorial concludes:

Yet despite repeated promises by presidents and Congress for the past three decades, the border remains nearly as porous as ever. And catch-and-release is still alive and well. Is it any wonder so many try to cross the border illegally every month.

Isn’t the failure of leaders to do what they all say is necessary to protect national security interests the very definition of a crisis at the border?

Democrats, it seems, want to label everything a crisis. We have a health care crisis. A clean water crisis. A “food desert” crisis. An infrastructure crisis. A homelessness crisis.

Democrats label just about everything a crisis. Why? Because they want to whip up public support for bigger, more expensive, more intrusive government programs.

Everything, that is, except for the very real, long-standing crisis posed by a porous border that each year lets in tens of thousands of illegals.

The current government shutdown is about border security. Any other discussion is irrelevant spin. The Democrats simply do not want President Trump to have a border wall, and the Republicans do not want to see an end to cheap labor. That is the impasse.

Six Major Challenges In 2019

On December 28th, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial listing what their editors considered would be the top six issues of 2019. The title of the editorial is, “Will 2019 Be Happy? It Depends On How Washington Handles These 6 Challenges.” I suspect that is true.

The editorial lists the six items:

1. The Federal Reserve

2. Trade

3. Immigration

4. The Coming Budget Battle

5. Slaying The Regulatory Dragon

6. Fixing Health Care ‘Reform’

Here are some of the observations from the editorial on each item:

The Fed has raised its benchmark funds rate eight times over two years in pursuit of a “neutral” rate. Its most recent rate hike, coming about a week before Christmas, was followed by a steep decline in stocks and growing concerns that the economy might fall into recession next year if the central bank follows through on its plan to raise rates at least twice more.

It’s of more than academic interest that all 11 of the U.S. recessions since World War II were preceded by a sharp run up in Fed rates. Every one of them. It’s not a record of which to be proud.

…Despite bitter criticisms, President Trump successfully concluded a “new Nafta” deal with both Canada and Mexico covering $1.3 trillion in trade. The deal closes a number of holes in the old Nafta, increasing U.S. access to Canadian dairy markets, for instance, while also making cars tariff-free if 75% of their parts are made in the U.S., Canada or Mexico. All three countries signed off on the deal. The only question is, will it ever go into effect?

With Democrats controlling Congress and just six months for the trade deal to go into effect, some worry that major changes will be requested. President Trump has asked that either the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement be approved outright, or revert to the pre-Nafta trading rules. Congressional Democrats may even challenge Trump’s right to make a deal, putting the so-called USMCA in limbo. Stay tuned.

…With Americans eager to control immigration, as polls repeatedly show, Democrats may decide that negotiation rather than confrontation is a better tactic. That could mean a deal for a pathway to citizenship for the millennial illegal immigrant “dreamers,” many of whom have lived in the U.S. for most of their lives despite not having citizenship. With an estimated 22 million illegals in the U.S., many states are eager to gain some stability in our immigration policy.

…This year’s budget battle over funding the wall will likely pale in comparison to next year’s. The continued growth in entitlements, compounded by the sharp rise in interest payments, thanks to the Fed’s rate hikes, will balloon the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office’s last official projection pegged the deficit for 2019 at $981 billion. It will likely end up topping $1 trillion.

…But as we’ve pointed out many times, the problem isn’t tax cuts, it’s the unwillingness of anyone in Washington — including Trump — to deal with entitlement programs that have swamped the federal budget. Trump and the GOP will have to stand firm on taxes next year, while grappling with a rising tide of debt that will soon surpass $21 trillion.

…ObamaCare limped along for another year, with premiums for 2019 falling, overall, after years of massive double-digit increases. Trump took several steps to improve ObamaCare. The most important fix was to breathe life back into the short-term insurance market that President Obama tried to snuff out to protect the ObamaCare exchanges. Unfortunately, since Republicans blew their chance at repeal, the best we can hope for is that Trump will continue to tweak the law where he can. But he shouldn’t shy away from fighting for more free-market reforms. Should Democrats resist, or start pushing for socialized “Medicare for all,” it will create an opportunity for Trump to paint Democrats as big-government extremists.

The article concludes:

The coming year will be eventful, with many of Trump’s main initiatives set for action by Congress — a Congress, as we noted, that won’t be as friendly to Trump as the last one. Whether Trump and the Democrats can, as the bumper sticker says, coexist, or whether the Trump agenda founders on a never-ending stream of congressional investigations and hearings on the White House, remains to be seen. We guarantee it won’t be boring.

Get out the popcorn.

You Had One Job…

In 1996 The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was passed, giving states control of welfare.

The site history.com reports:

Building on policies that had been passed by Reagan, and a foundational principle of “personal responsibility,” TANF added work requirements for aid, shrinking the number of adults who could qualify for benefits. This legislation also created caps for how long and how much aid a person could receive, and well as instituting harsher punishments for recipients who did not comply with the requirements.

Under President Obama, those requirements were loosened because of the recession. The Republican Congress under President Trump had discussed putting work requirements back, but somehow those requirements didn’t make it into the farm bill.

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial yesterday about the recently passed farm bill. The article notes that there was bi-partisan support for the farm bill.

The editorial states:

How bad is the bill? Even Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley, himself a farmer, was outraged because the package granted federal subsidies even to distant relatives of farmers that don’t farm.

…Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group, a left-leaning environmentalist organization that has been critical of farm subsidies, notes that more than 1,000 “city slickers” who live in major American cities get farm subsidies. It’s absurd.

All in all, the nearly $1 trillion a year spent on farm subsidies and food aid is a massive waste, given that farmers on average have higher incomes than those who are taxed to subsidize them

As Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute points out, farm incomes in 2017 were 32% higher than average U.S. household incomes, while about 60% of subsidies for the three main farm programs went to the biggest 10% of farms. Welfare for the rich.

Meanwhile, the the new bill also provides “promotional funds” for farmers markets, research for organic farming, and money to train more farmers. It also grants more money to veteran and minority farmers. Everyone gets a handout, it seems, whether needed or not.

The editorial concludes:

In our increasingly socialized farm economy, nearly everyone is too big to fail. Which means the rest of us pay for it. President Trump, focused on other things, will likely sign this awful Farm Bill. After all, it has that golden seal of congressional approval: It was “bipartisan.” All that means is both sides found ways to rip off taxpayers.

The bill did not include work requirements for food stamps recipients. The Republican Congress had one job regarding the farm bill…

The Real Numbers

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about the federal deficit and federal revenues. The numbers tell a very different story than the one the media would have you believe.

The editorial reports:

The latest monthly budget report from the Congressional Budget Office shows the deficit jumping $102 billion in just the first two months of the new fiscal year.

…A true apples-to-apples comparison, the CBO says, shows that the deficit climbed by just $13 billion.

So, no, the deficit is not soaring.

The editorial explains:

In fact, the CBO report shows that overall tax revenues climbed by $14 billion in the first two months of the year, compared with the same months last year. Which means they continue to hit new highs.

The CBO report shows that combined income and payroll taxes were the same in the first two months of the new fiscal year as they were last year. That’s even though far less money was withheld from paychecks thanks to the Trump tax cuts.

It also found that corporate income taxes went up by $5 billion. That’s despite the “massive corporate tax giveaway” that Democrats want to repeal.

Why are these revenues flat or up? Simple: The tax cuts help spur accelerated economic growth, which create jobs and spark income gains. More workers and higher wages mean more tax revenues. On the corporate side, a bigger economy means more profits, which even when taxed at lower rates can produce more revenue. This is exactly what advocates of Trump’s pro-growth tax cuts said would happen.

Meanwhile, revenue from “other sources” climbed by $8 billion. (To be clear, at least some of that $8 billion came from the re-imposition of ObamaCare’s nefarious tax on insurance premiums, which Congress had suspended the year before.)

But while revenues climbed by $14 billion, spending in the first two months of the new fiscal year climbed by $27 billion.

The obvious solution to the deficit problem is to limit spending. If we can’t agree on that, we could lower taxes again to increase revenue further, but I suspect that would really cause some Congressional heads to explode.

This Shouldn’t Surprise Anyone

On Friday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about the Clinton Foundation. The editorial deals with the drop in donations to the Foundation after Hillary Clinton lost her bid for the Presidency.

The editorial reports:

Controversy over the foundation erupted after Peter Schweizer’s 2015 book — “Clinton Cash” — suggested that the foundation served as a way for donors to curry favor with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

And, indeed, the multitude of connections that slowly turned out became hard to dismiss as coincidental. There was the fact that 85 of the 154 private interests who’d met with Clinton during her tenure at state were Clinton Foundation donors.

Emails turned up showing how the foundation intervened to arrange a meeting between Clinton and the Crown Prince of Bahrain, a country that had been a major foundation donor. A Chicago commodities trader who donated $100,000 to the foundation got a top job on a State Department arms control panel, despite having no experience in the area. On and on it went.

The editorial concludes:

But the most glaring indictment of the Clinton Foundation came from what happened last year, after Hillary Clinton lost the election — and effectively ended her political career.

First, the Clinton’s almost immediately shuttered the Clinton Global Initiative and laid off 22 employees.

Now, fresh financial documents show that contributions and grants to the Clinton Foundation plunged since Hillary lost her election bid. They dropped from $216 million in 2016 to just $26.5 million in 2017 — a stunning 88% fall. Throughout Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, the foundation pulled in an average of $254 million a year. (See chart below for a timeline.)

If the Clinton Foundation was as good as defenders claimed, why did all its big-time donors suddenly lose interest? The only reasonable explanation is that donors weren’t interested in what the foundation supposedly did for humanity. They were interested in the political favors they knew their money would buy.

In April 2015, The New York Post reported:

The Clinton family’s mega-charity took in more than $140 million in grants and pledges in 2013 but spent just $9 million on direct aid.

The group spent the bulk of its windfall on administration, travel, and salaries and bonuses, with the fattest payouts going to family friends.

On its 2013 tax forms, the most recent available, the foundation claimed it spent $30 million on payroll and employee benefits; $8.7 million in rent and office expenses; $9.2 million on “conferences, conventions and meetings”; $8 million on fundraising; and nearly $8.5 million on travel. None of the Clintons is on the payroll, but they do enjoy first-class flights paid for by the foundation.

In all, the group reported $84.6 million in “functional expenses” on its 2013 tax return and had more than $64 million left over — money the organization has said represents pledges rather than actual cash on hand.

Some of the tens of millions in administrative costs finance more than 2,000 employees, including aid workers and health professionals around the world.

But that’s still far below the 75 percent rate of spending that nonprofit experts say a good charity should spend on its mission.

At one time there was an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. I have no idea whether or not it is ongoing. However, just looking at the amount of money spent on overhead and the rapid drop in donations when Hillary was not elected President, I think there are some obvious conclusions that anyone paying attention can draw about the Foundation.

Putting Politics Before The Welfare Of Americans

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about the coming Congressional session. The title of the editorial is, “Market Turmoil Shows Why Trump’s Pro-Growth Policies Must Continue.”

The editorial explains:

Kudlow (President Trump’s top economic advisor, Larry Kudlow) tried to calm the waters. “Corrections come and go,” he told reporters at the White House. “I’m reading some of the weirdest stuff how a recession is in the future. Nonsense. Recession is so far in the distance I can’t see it. Keep the faith. It’s a very strong economy.”

Let’s be clear. Economic forecasts have been overly pessimistic for most of the Trump administration, with actual results consistently coming in “unexpectedly” higher than forecast. And Kudlow is right. There’s no sign of a recession on the horizon.

The editorial points out the indications of a strong economy and the steps needed to keep it strong:

Unemployment is at 50-year lows. Wages are growing at the fastest rate since the financial crisis. There are a million more job listings than officially unemployed people. Productivity grew 2.2% in the third quarter, after jumping 3% in the second quarter — the fastest growth rate in four years. Small business optimism and the IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index remains at record highs.

After eight long years of sluggish growth under President Obama, the economy has been booming.

Still, the Fed has been raising interest rates, and as we’ve pointed out repeatedly in this space, the risk is always that they will go too far, too fast, and crash the economy. The trade war with China is taking its toll. And the economic expansion is old. The last recession ended 113 months ago, making this the second longest in the post-World War II era.

Which is all the more reason for the federal government to continue wringing every bit of growth-inhibiting policies out of the system. For his part, Trump needs to get a trade deal in place with China when he meets with President Xi Jinping at a G-20 summit later this month. And he needs to continue to deregulate where he can.

Unfortunately the Democrats in Congress have little interest in continuing the policies that have resulted in the current economic growth. They will make every effort to roll back the tax cuts and increase the size and spending of the federal government. Hopefully their efforts will not be successful.

Another Bad Idea From A Socialist

On Friday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about Senator Bernie Sanders’ latest great idea–he wants to put all sorts of restrictions on Walmart until they start paying all of their employees $15 an hour.

The editorial states:

With typical Sanders subtlety, his new legislative proposal is called the “Stop WALMART act.”

Under it, big employers like Walmart would be banned from buying back shares in their own company unless they paid all their workers at least $15 an hour. They’d also have to cap CEO pay at 150 times the median employee pay, and provide seven days of paid sick leave. (Why Sanders doesn’t also include free lunches and bus tokens in his list of demands isn’t clear.)

Sanders says he’s building on the success of his Stop BEZOS act, which would have dictated that large companies “pay back” the cost of any government benefits received by any of their workers.

The editorial reminds us:

This is a company that employs 1.5 million people across the country. Some may not make what Sanders deems appropriate. But it’s good enough for many unskilled workers, who if they had a better offer would have taken it.

What’s more, Walmart’s relentless pursuit of lower prices not only helps middle class families stretch their hard-earned dollars further, but has helped hold down inflation economywide, according to economists who’ve studied the “Walmart effect.” That benefits everyone.

…If Sanders really wants to help Walmart workers, two proven things work. Cut taxes and deregulate the economy.

In the wake of the Trump tax cuts — which Sanders vehemently opposed — Walmart boosted its starting wage to $11 an hour, up from $9. It also handed out bonuses that started at $250 and climbed to $1,000 depending on years of service.

Meanwhile, the economic boom under Trump’s economic policies has cut the unemployment rate to 50-year lows. It’s also drawn millions back into the workforce, and sparked the fastest wage growth in a decade.

No mandates. No threats or browbeating. No central planning needed.

Walmart is probably not the ideal career for everyone. However, I personally know someone who was able to support himself at college by working there part time. They hired a young kid out of high school and helped him get an education. He didn’t make it a career, but it helped move him toward the career he wanted.

Since when does the American government have the right to target a specific company and tell them what they must pay their employees?

Some Relevant Thoughts On Voter Fraud

On Friday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial titled, “Why Do Democrats Pretend Voter Fraud Doesn’t Exist?”

The editorial begins by providing examples showing that voter fraud does exist:

In August, the Justice Department announced the prosecution of 19 foreign nationals for illegally voting in North Carolina. Some of them voted in multiple elections.

Texas State Attorney General Ken Paxton decided to crack down on voter fraud before the midterm elections. So far, he’s prosecuted 33 people for 97 counts of voter fraud this year alone. Among the discoveries was a voter fraud ring that had received financial support from the former head of the Texas Democratic Party.

Pennsylvania let thousands of noncitizens register to vote, many of whom have since voted, according to reporter John Fund, who has been following this issue for years.

The Heritage Foundation has a database that now includes 1,165 cases of election fraud across 47 states. More than 1,000 of them resulted in criminal convictions.

One case of voter fraud is too many. Any fraudulent vote cancels out the vote of a legal voter. This is an issue all of us should be concerned about. One of the foundations of a healthy republic is honest elections. Without honest elections, we could easily become a banana republic.

The editorial concludes:

The fact is that committing voter fraud isn’t all that difficult, but minimizing it is easy. Cleaning up registration rolls, enacting voter ID requirements, using paper ballots, and implementing better controls on early and absentee voting would make non-citizen voting and other forms of fraud virtually impossible.

Critics of such efforts say that they will only serve to suppress the vote of minorities and the poor — that is, voters who tend to vote Democratic. They want to make it easier and easier to register and vote.

But there’s no evidence that voter ID laws suppress turnout. In fact, of 11 states that adopted strict voter ID laws, nine either saw increased turnout in 2016, or had turnout rates higher than the national average, the Heritage Foundation notes.

Nor does cleaning up registration rolls, aggressively pursuing voter fraud cases, using paper ballots, or other measures to ensure the integrity of the ballot suppress legitimate voters.

Those who say voter fraud is no big deal should realize something. Every single vote cast fraudulently cancels out one legitimate vote. They need to ask themselves how they’d feel if it was their vote being canceled.

It is long past time to fix this.

Sometimes The Facts Just Don’t Agree With The Spin

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial yesterday about some assertions made by former President Obama in a recent speech.

The editorial notes:

In a speech at a rally in Nevada, Obama claimed that the current economic boom has nothing to do with Trump’s economic policies.

“By the time I left office,” he said, “wages were rising, uninsurance rate was falling, poverty was falling. And that’s what I handed off to the next guy. So when you hear all this talk about economic miracles right now, remember who started it.”

Well, who did start it?

The editorial explains:

GDP growth was decelerating throughout 2016. Household income was flat. The unemployment rate was flat. The stock market was flat.

And, “by 2016, wage growth began to taper off quickly,” notes the American Action Forum’s Ben Gitis.

Even The New York Times, which has been gamely trying to grant Obama credit for the current boom, now admits that 2016 was an “invisible recession.”

“There was a sharp slowdown in business investment, caused by an interrelated weakening in emerging markets, a drop in the price of oil and other commodities, and a run-up in the value of the dollar,” it explained.

Slow Growth Expected

By the end of 2016, pundits and economists were widely predicting a new era of slow economic growth. Why? Because for eight years under President Obama’s leadership, the economy struggled to even top 2% annual growth. It never reached 3%. And every single year GDP growth missed the forecasts by Obama’s own economists.

So for Obama to claim that he handed Trump a thriving economy is 100% pure poppycock.

What’s more, Obama and other liberal Democrats insisted in 2016 that if Trump were elected, he’d send the economy into a tailspin.

There is a definite difference between words and results. Former President Obama can claim all the economic success he wants, but the numbers simply do not back him up.

Things To Notice

On October 15, The Wall Street Journal noted:

The U.S. government ran its largest budget deficit in six years during the fiscal year that ended last month, an unusual development in a fast-growing economy and a sign that—so far at least—tax cuts have restrained government revenue gains.

The deficit totaled $779 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, up 17% from $666 billion in fiscal 2017, the Treasury Department said Monday. The deficit is headed toward $1 trillion in the current fiscal year, the White House and Congressional Budget Office said.

Deficits usually shrink during economic booms because strong growth leads to increased tax revenue as household income, corporate profits and capital gains all rise. Meantime, spending on safety-net programs like unemployment insurance and food stamps tends to be restrained.

In the last fiscal year, a different set of forces was at play as economic growth sped up. Interest payments on the federal debt and military spending rose rapidly, while tax revenue failed to keep pace as the Republican tax cuts for both individuals and corporations kicked in.

What you just read is totally misleading. The statement that ‘ tax revenue failed to keep pace as the Republican tax cuts for both individuals and corporations kicked in” is absolutely false. The two major parts of the problem are Congress’ lack of ability or willingness to cut spending and the fact that when the federal reserve raises interest rates, it increases the interest the government pays on the current debt, thus increasing the deficit. As far as the tax cuts are concerned, the facts are quite different from what The Wall Street Journal reported.

On October 16, Investor’s Business Daily reported:

Critics of the Trump tax cuts said they would blow a hole in the deficit. Yet individual income taxes climbed 6% in the just-ended fiscal year 2018, as the economy grew faster and created more jobs than expected.

The Treasury Department reported this week that individual income tax collections for FY 2018 totaled $1.7 trillion. That’s up $14 billion from fiscal 2017, and an all-time high. And that’s despite the fact that individual income tax rates got a significant cut this year as part of President Donald Trump’s tax reform plan.

True, the first three months of the fiscal year were before the tax cuts kicked in. But if you limit the accounting to this calendar year, individual income tax revenues are up by 5% through September.

Other major sources of revenue climbed as well, as the overall economy revived. FICA tax collections rose by more than 3%. Excise taxes jumped 13%.

The only category that was down? Corporate income taxes, which dropped by 31%.

Overall, federal revenues came in slightly higher in FY 2018 — up 0.5%.

Spending, on the other hand, was $127 billion higher in fiscal 2018. As a result, deficits for 2018 climbed $113 billion.

The underline is mine.

It’s the spending, stupid! We need a Congress that will curb spending and a Federal Reserve that will move slowly.

Chess And Checkers

In the past, the Democrats and their media allies have played chess while the Republicans have played checkers. That seems to be changing. In evaluating Donald Trump, you have to consider who he was before he ran for President. Donald Trump inherited two major things from his father–a good supply of seed money and a strong work ethic. With those two things, he entered the real estate market in New York City, definitely a place where street smarts, common sense, and the ability to play poker are needed. He succeeded in that market by marketing his brand and building tall buildings. In creating that success, he often dealt with people who played by rules other than those of polite society. He honed the ability to know when he could close a deal with a handshake and when he needed an ironclad contract. He also mastered the art of leverage. That brings me to the present.

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial yesterday that asks the questions, “Did Hillary Clinton Direct Deep State’s Trump Investigation?”

That is an interesting question. At present the evidence is circumstantial, but the article lists much of that evidence:

Last week, while Washington Democrats and their far-left allies shrieked in rage at the prospect of Kavanaugh taking a seat on the high court, former FBI General Counsel James Baker — who reported directly to former FBI Director James Comey — told congressional investigators that an attorney from the Perkin Coies law firm gave him materials about Russian election meddling during the 2016 presidential campaign.

This is a stunning revelation, since it directly contradicts Justice Department and FBI official sworn testimony.

…Baker told Congress last week that Perkin Coies lawyer Michael Sussmann directly handed documents to him about Russia’s attempts at meddling in the 2016 election. He was a cutout, a go-between, for Hillary Clinton. And the FBI knew it.

…”Numerous officials at the DOJ and the FBI have told us under oath…nobody at FBI or DOJ knew anything about the Democratic Party being behind the Clinton dirt,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said Sunday. “Now you have one of the top lawyers for the Democrats and the Clinton campaign who was feeding information directly to the top lawyer at the FBI.”

The article concludes:

Nunes says that the recent revelations show why President Trump should declassify some of the Russia-related documents. We think that should only be the starting point for a thorough investigation of the Hillary Clinton campaign’s apparent crimes.

An article at The American Thinker posted today offers one explanation of why the declassification of the Russia-related documents has been delayed:

There’s a reason why President Trump has not unilaterally declassified the documents exposing perfidy against him: leverage.  As the whole Russia hoax is beginning to come into some sort of global perspective – quite literally, as we’ll see – the extent of the advantage he now maintains by holding back declassification as a threat outweighs the benefits of transparency.  Recent posts by observers who write from widely varying perspectives give us the ability to discern the current state of play.

The article at The American Thinker explains the principle of leverage involved in not declassifying those documents:

There are many other players, in addition to Rosenstein, who are at serious risk.  But from the perspective of leverage, Rosenstein is the key because he created the special counsel part of the hoax and because – as a result of A.G. Sessions’s recusal – he remains in charge of the special counsel operation.  Rosenstein can exercise as much or as little control over Mueller as he wants.  Trump’s threat of declassification of the “origination material” gives Trump complete leverage over Rosenstein and therefore over Mueller.

…Leverage, anyone?  Declassification would expose all these foreign players, but the heaviest hit by far would be against the U.K. and its Australian poodle.  And so we learn that “key allies” “begged” Trump not to declassify that “origination material.”

We currently have a President who plays chess. We need to get used to that.

Misleading Voters In The Hope Of Winning Elections

Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial on Friday about misleading claims about ObamaCare by Democrats running for office.

The editorial reports:

Democrats want health care to be a major deciding issue in the midterm elections and are spending a fortune running campaign ads. Too bad most of the ads make the false claim that Republicans would take away protections for pre-existing conditions.

From January to July, Democrats spent some $17 million for 56,000 health care ads on behalf of Senate candidates, according to USA Today.

The Wesleyan Media Project reported that 44% of all the ads for congressional Democrats focused on health care. In Senate races, half of the ads were on health care, and another 16% on prescription drug costs.

One of the claims in the ads is that Republicans want to deny insurance to those with pre-existing conditions. This is a scare tactic.

The editorial explains the Republican plan for dealing with those who have pre-existing conditions (The article notes that the individual market comprises just 7% of the total insurance market. And of those, only a much smaller fraction had ever been denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions before ObamaCare.):

One GOP idea was to create subsidized high-risk pools for those whose health needs would truly make them ineligible for coverage. Another was to provide protections for those who maintain continuous coverage. That would prevent people from gaming the system by waiting until they’re sick to buy insurance. (In contrast to ObamaCare, which encourages people to game the system.) Still another was to expand access to group coverage by removing needless government restrictions on “association health plans.”

Whatever anyone thinks of the Republican alternatives, it’s clear that ObamaCare’s approach is failing. Its rules and mandates led to double-digit price increases year after year, which have priced millions of families out of the insurance market altogether. (So much for guaranteed coverage.) Those who can afford ObamaCare coverage have no choice but to enroll in HMO-style plans with extremely high deductibles. (So much for making insurance “affordable.”)

The GOP proposals aren’t perfect, a point we made in this space many times. But ObamaCare as it exists today is a disaster. It promises affordable coverage, but makes it impossible for millions to get it. And it requires massive taxpayer subsidies to bring individual insurance within reach of anyone.

Unfortunately voters who are not well informed may believe the lies being told. Hopefully enough people have been negatively impacted by ObamaCare to see through this ploy.

Is Voter Fraud Real?

In August of 2017, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial that is still significant today. The editorial dealt with voter fraud.

The editorial stated:

Elections: American democracy has a problem — a voting problem. According to a new study of U.S. Census data, America has more registered voters than actual live voters. It’s a troubling fact that puts our nation’s future in peril.

The data come from Judicial Watch’s Election Integrity Project. The group looked at data from 2011 to 2015 produced by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, along with data from the federal Election Assistance Commission.

As reported by the National Review’s Deroy Murdock, who did some numbers-crunching of his own, “some 3.5 million more people are registered to vote in the U.S. than are alive among America’s adult citizens. Such staggering inaccuracy is an engraved invitation to voter fraud.”

Murdock counted Judicial Watch’s state-by-state tally and found that 462 U.S. counties had a registration rate exceeding 100% of all eligible voters. That’s 3.552 million people, who Murdock calls “ghost voters.” And how many people is that? There are 21 states that don’t have that many people.

The article concluded:

And, in at least two nationally important elections in recent memory, the outcome was decided by a paper-thin margin: In 2000, President Bush beat environmental activist and former Vice President Al Gore by just 538 votes.

Sen. Al Franken, the Minnesota Democrat, won his seat by beating incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman in 2008. Coleman was initially declared the winner the day after the election, with a 726-vote lead over Franken. But after a controversial series of recounts and ballot disqualifications, Franken emerged weeks later with a 225-seat victory.

Franken’s win was enormous, since it gave Democrats filibuster-proof control of the Senate. So, yes, small vote totals matter.

We’re not saying here that Franken cheated, nor, for that matter, that Bush did. But small numbers can have an enormous impact on our nation’s governance. The 3.5 million possible fraudulent ballots that exist are a problem that deserves serious immediate attention. Nothing really hinges on it, of course, except the integrity and honesty of our democratic elections.

I don’t claim to be a mathematical genius, but logically it doesn’t seem as if you should have more registered voters than live people. I understand that there can be a delay if a person dies, but hopefully that person can be taken off of the voter rolls quickly. There are also cases of intentional fraud. A friend of mine checked the voter rolls for the names of anyone registered to vote at her address. She found three names that she did not even recognize.

Recently there has been a move in some areas to compare voting rolls with the names of those refusing jury duty by stating that they are not American citizens. A number of people have been charged with crimes for voting when they were not eligible to vote.

We need honest elections. That is one reason that voter identity is a good idea. We also need checks and balances on our data–reporting and storing data. Recently a friend checked election data and found that it has been altered after certification. That should not happen.

North Carolina has a voter id measure on the ballot in November. The voters had already passed a voter id measure, but the courts struck it down. Let’s hope the will of the people will prevail this time.

The Numbers Tell The Story

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about the growing federal deficit. The numbers in the editorial tell the story of what is actually happening:

Each month the Treasury Department releases its tally of federal spending and revenues. The most recent data are through the month of August. Since the federal government starts its fiscal year in October, the latest report includes all but one month of the 2018 fiscal year.

What do the data show?

Through August, the federal deficit topped $898 billion. Over the same period last year the deficit was $674 billion.

So, the deficit is running $224 billion higher this fiscal year compared with last.

But the Treasury data also show that federal revenues through August totaled $2.985 trillion. That’s an increase of $19 billion over the previous year.

In other words, despite Trump’s massive tax cuts, federal revenues are running higher this year than last.

The problem is that federal spending has climbed even faster. Through August, outlays totaled $3.88 trillion. That’s $243 billion more than the prior fiscal year.

…The Treasury data show that while corporate income tax receipts are down, individual income tax revenue is up by $100 billion — a 7% gain — over last year. Payroll taxes are up by $5 billion. Revenues from excise taxes and customs duties are also up.

So, while corporations are paying fewer taxes, they’re hiring more workers and paying them more, which is generating additional income and payroll taxes. This is exactly what advocates of the tax cuts predicted would happen.

As Kudlow explained in his remarks, increased growth has “just about paid for two thirds of the total tax cuts.”

The article goes on to illustrate that government spending is totally out of control. Until the spending drops, the deficit will not decrease. Those of us who voted for Republicans expected them to stop the runaway spending. If they continue to spend like drunken sailors, they will lose their majority.

One Weapon In Fighting The Opioid Epidemic

Investor’s Business Daily posted an article today about an agreement reached between Aetna Insurance and Abbot Laboratories.

The article reports:

Aetna (AET) agreed Tuesday to cover a chronic pain device from Abbott Laboratories (ABT) that acts as an alternative to potentially addictive opioids.

The decision extends coverage of Abbott’s dorsal root ganglion neurostimulation pain therapy to an estimated 22 million Americans living with chronic pain. By stimulating the dorsal root ganglion, a structure along the spinal column, Abbott’s device can mask pain.

“While Medicare already covers our DRG system, it’s encouraging to see payers like Aetna review the clinical data and outcomes, then choose to provide access to DRG stimulation for their members,” Keith Boettiger, vice president of Abbott’s neuromodulation business, said in a written statement.

…Neuropathic pain conditions are some of the most prevalent and under-treated forms of chronic pain in America, Abbott says.

These patients often try various medication, opioids or surgery to no end. Amid the opioid epidemic, the Food and Drug Administration is pushing for medical devices to help combat the crisis. An estimated 116 people died every day in the U.S. in 2016 due to opioid-related overdoses.

Many of the people in America who are addicted to opioids began that addiction after being prescribed the drugs for pain. When the prescription ran out and they could not refill it, they turned to street drugs, which were cheaper and available. Unfortunately, there are no controls on street drugs, and they are sometimes laced with fentanyl. The Centers for Disease Control reported that in 2016, lab-made fentanyl helped kill over half of the people who died of opioid overdoses.

Finding a way to combat chronic pain without opioids is one step in dealing with the opioid epidemic in America. Kudos to Aetna in taking a step in that direction by covering the DRG system.

The Economic System That Works

We have all heard the expression, “The proof is in the pudding.” In other words, you can judge the value of something by how well it works. Sounds like common sense, but somehow common sense occasionally takes a vacation from our political dialog. Recently, the left wing of the Democrat party has come out in support of socialism. Tom Steyer and George Soros have invested millions of dollars into Democrat candidates who support socialism while many Democrats are trying to play down the fact that the party is flirting with socialist ideas. Capitalism has dropped in approval among the public while socialism is popular in many circles. Yet when you compare the results of the two economic systems, capitalism helps many more people than socialism.

Yesterday Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial titled, “The Coming Global Middle-Class Majority: Thank Capitalism, Not Socialism, For The Boom.”

Here are some highlights from the editorial:

…capitalism in the last few decades has had the most revolutionary impact on improving human lives in history.

And yes, that’s a fact, one reaffirmed in a new study by the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution think tank.

The study validates what some have known now for years: Capitalism makes everyone wealthier, even the poor. But it also magically turns hundreds of millions of poor people into the middle class. It’s the greatest economic transformation ever.

The Brookings study, by Homi Kharas, asserts that in just two years — 2020 — the majority of the world’s estimated 7.5 billion people will be “middle class.” Kharas defines middle class as anyone who can pay for food, shelter and clothing, with enough left to supply some luxuries, including TV, a motorbike or car, higher education, home improvements and better food.

The editorial notes the difference between perception and reality:

Put another way, thanks to the free-market revolution that is still reshaping the world, per person global output increased more in the 15 years after the fall of communism than it had in the previous 10,000 years of human civilization.

To say this is an underrecognized, underreported phenomenon is an understatement. Today, in our colleges and universities, our best students learn that the world is bifurcated sharply into haves and have-nots, a result of capitalism run amok. And that capitalism leaves a small handful of people richer but the rest of us poorer.

Simply not true. Indeed, most of the world is getting richer, largely due to free trade, more open investment, and the recognition by many countries that not all regulations are good. And among those who have benefited the most are those who are the poorest.

Socialism didn’t achieve these things. Capitalism, now a dirty word, did. Yet, as we’ve mentioned before, a recent Gallup Poll shows that among those aged 18 to 29, 51% have a positive view of socialism while just 45% have a positive view of capitalism. They’re sadly mistaken.

As left-leaning economist Robert Heilbroner so eloquently wrote in the pages of the New Yorker all the way back in 1989, “Less than 75 years after it officially began, the contest between capitalism and socialism is over: capitalism has won … Capitalism organizes the material affairs of humankind more satisfactorily than socialism.”

The editorial concludes:

Yes, growth cycles go up, and they go down. But there is no question that the free market policies put in place in the early 1980s under U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher have had an enormous effect around the world. The ideas they fostered and that other governments picked up made the world a much wealthier place. They helped pull literally hundreds of millions out of poverty and misery.

Remember that the next time you hear Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren or congresswoman wannabe Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez extol the wonders of socialism. Capitalism creates wealth. Socialism creates poverty. And the explosion in the global middle class proves it.

I guess those who support candidates espousing socialism need to study recent economics and history.

Those Nasty Unintended Consequences

On Monday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial detailing the impact of ObamaCare on doctors.

The editorial reports:

A year before ObamaCare became law, an IBD/TIPP Poll warned that it would lead to doctor shortages because many would quit or retire early. New evidence shows that our warnings were dead on.

A recent report from the Association of Medical Colleges projects doctor shortages of up to 121,300 within the next 12 years. That’s a 16% increase from their forecast just last year.

Not only are medical schools having trouble attracting doctors (New York University plans to offer free tuition to its med students), but current physicians are cutting back on patient visits, retiring early or switching careers.

An article in a recent issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings says that nearly one in five doctors plan to switch to part-time clinical hours, 27% plan to leave their current practice, and 9% plan to get an administrative job or switch careers entirely.

The editorial cites one possible reason for the declining number of doctors:

One of the big drivers of doctor exits, by the way, is the Obama administration’s “electronic health records” mandate, which was supposed to vastly improve the quality and efficiency of care.

It’s had the opposite effect. A Mayo Clinic survey found that the EHR mandate is reducing efficiency, increasing costs and paperwork hassles, and pushing more doctors to quit or retire early.

A Harris Poll found that 59% of doctors say the current EHR system foisted on them by the Obama administration needs “a complete overhaul,” and 40% say it imposes more challenges than benefits.

ObamaCare continued what had been a long and sorry trend in health care. Government-imposed rules designed to fix some problem in the system instead generated mountains of new administrative work.

The result has been that while the number of physicians in the country has climbed modestly over the past three decades, the number of health care administrators exploded.

This is an illustration of the consequences of government interference in the free market. The free market isn’t perfect, but it is the best way to keep prices down, innovation up, and industries (and professions) moving forward.

When Common Sense Meets Health Insurance

On August 14th, Investor’s Business Daily posted an article about the impact that the removing of regulations by the Trump administration has had.

The article reports:

As the Competitive Enterprise Institute noted earlier this year in its “Ten Thousand Commandments” annual report, federal regulations cost a lot more than their stated dollar amount. As of last year, regulation and federal intervention in the economy cost Americans an estimated $1.9 trillion. And that’s one of the lowball estimates out there.

How much is that? It’s the equivalent of a $15,000-per-household tax levied each year in perpetuity. That’s more than the average family spends on food, clothing or transportation. Only housing takes more of the family budget.

If regulation were a nation, and let’s be thankful it’s not, it would be the eighth-largest economy in the world. Regulation even exceeds the IRS’ total take in corporate and individual income tax. That’s how big it is.

Last year, Trump began cutting rules in earnest as soon as he entered office. He slashed the total number of pages in the Federal Register, the government’s regulatory bible, from 95,894 in 2016 to 61,308 pages in 2017. That’s a decline of 36% and the lowest since 1993. This year it will go even lower.

On Friday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about how removing some regulations has impacted ObamaCare.

The editorial reports:

The leftist Center for American Progress claimed that premiums for ObamaCare’s “benchmark plan” would rocket up 25% next year, due almost entirely to the individual mandate repeal and Trump’s decision to expand access to far less expensive “short term” insurance plans that don’t have to comply with ObamaCare regulations and mandates.

Rates in Pennsylvania, it said, would jump 27%. They were going to climb 28% in Wisconsin. And 29% in Arizona and Nebraska.

All those dire predictions scored widespread news coverage.

But then insurance companies started announcing modest rate requests for 2019, and suddenly ObamaCare was no longer a story.

ObamaCare premiums will rise a mere 0.7% in Pennsylvania, according to the state’s insurance commissioner. They will climb by just 1% in Nebraska. In Wisconsin, they’re expected to drop by 3.5%, and drop by more than 5% in Arizona.

The overall increase this year will be just over 5%, on average, according to ACASignups.net, which is aggressively supportive of ObamaCare.

If that holds true, it will be the lowest increase in premiums since ObamaCare started.

According to data from the Health and Human Services department, premiums in the individual market jumped 25% in 2014, ObamaCare’s first year. They climbed 14% in 2015 and 8% in 2016. In 2017, premiums shot up by 23%. And then another 37% in 2018.

Keep in mind that except for the 2018 rate increase, all those prior hikes were announced when Barack Obama was in the White House and everyone expected Hillary Clinton to become the next president.

Government regulations affect all of us. Most of them simply need to go away.